Friday, January 16, 2009

Are You A GeneaTwit?

I'm not trying to insult or cast aspersions - I'm just askin'.  What I mean is, "are you a fan of Twitter?"

If you aren't familiar with Twitter or if you've heard about Twitter but are wondering what all the fuss is about, here's my take on it.  And this is coming from someone who signed up back in June 2007 and thought "big deal!" but has since come around.  Now I don't think I'd want to live without Twitter since it connects me to issues, interests, networks and people that are important to me.

Twitter is an application that falls under the heading of "micro-blogging" or "micro-media" since you are limited to 140 characters in your messages.  There is an entire lingo involved too: from a twit (someone who uses Twitter) to a tweet (a Twitter message).  It took me sometime to get the hang of being a good twitizen and being brief and on point in my tweets.

So what's the point?  And why is this component of social media different than say blogging or Facebook?  Twitter lets you follow other Twitter users as they microblog about issues, topics, events as they happen and more.  You seek out these people based on common interests such as blogging, genealogy or simply just by knowing them through work, church, etc.  As you begin to tweet about interesting stuff, you'll find others will "follow" you - meaning they find your tweets interesting enough that they want to be notified when you post new tweets.

How is this important to me as a geneablogger?  I've been able to keep tab on what projects other geneabloggers are working on, issues or problems others are having with their research, discuss plans on traveling to upcoming genealogy conferences and events.  I also use Twitter to ask questions, to take the pulse of my followers on certain issues.  

And what's most amazing especially in the past few weeks is how Twitter user almost always scoop the news media on events as they happen.  Truly a form of "eyewitness news" or what is being called "witness journalism," several high profile events such as the attacks in Mumbai and the US Airways jet landing in the Hudson River were broadcast as they happened.  With Mumbai, several hostages stranded in their rooms were able to communicate to police and the media where they were and what was going on, as well as stay in touch with family.  With the US Airways incident, one person aboard a rescue ferry was able to relay photos instantly as events unfolded.

I normally don't say this, but like the old Alka-Seltzer commercial: try it, you'll like it.  If you've taken to Facebook and you want to bump your social media cred up to the next level, look into Twitter.  And to answer your next question: no - there won't be a new blog called Twitter Bootcamp for Geneabloggers.  Just stayed tuned right here for any technical tips, news and info related to your journey as a geneablogger navigating as you navigate new technology.

I've included a link to a quick slideshow created as part of my new business venture, BigLaw 2.0 which provides Twitter coaching and other Twitter services.  In addition, I've developed a quick reference card that can be used to walk any user through the process of setting up a Twitter account, customizing features, accessing widgets and apps as well as searching for other twitizens to follow.

Twitter overview:
Twitter quick reference:


Amy (We Tree) said...

Two points which may futher convince others to join the fun:

1. I do get a respectable amount of traffic to my genealogy blog from followers of my Twitter account.

2. Twitter can kick butt on news events. When the Orange County, CA fires were happening, I needed to know exactly where the Yorba Linda fire was and where it was headed. CNN was useless for that level of detail. Monitoring OC-based Twitterers first hand accounts gave me the exact information I needed. That's when I saw the real value of Twitter.

Also, I thought of a third use. Watch for the upcoming big genealogy conferences. Twitter users will be logging their experiences as they happen. It's a great way to get the latest information when you can't be at the conference.

Follow me on Twitter. I'm acoffin

Thomas MacEntee said...

I forgot - I've set up a geneabloggers account on Twitter. It is simply geneabloggers.

Gayle Gresham said...

I use the Twitter application to post my status updates to Facebook. And I added Twitter to my blog. This give mini-updates of my research, fun things I find, trips, etc. that aren't necessarily a blog post, but show up on my blog. And it gives a taste of my personal life to my blog readers.


Nice piece, Thomas. I am a non-techie newtwit - just made that up! Trying to learn Twitter after facebook - too many new languages! But you can tweet me at tracingthetribe and also at jewishgyrabbit.

Andrea Christman said...

When I first got my twitter account, I was not blogging. But now that I have a blog, I do what Gayle does and add my Twitter Feeds right to my blog. Since I am having difficulty blogging frequently, at least there is something there to keep people updated! Also, because of your 1-pager, I added my blog to TwitFeed. I was adding my new blog posts to Twitter manually, but this is a convenient feature. My head spins from all of technology. I don't know how you keep up with it all!!!